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What is Hard Water

Aug 05, 2017  |  By Brham Trim (Medicine Hat)  |  General Plumbing

Dripping faucet 1

What exactly is 'hard water'? Where does it come from? And what effect does it have?

When a certain amount of magnesium and calcium minerals are contained in water, it is considered to be 'hard.' These minerals are absorbed into the water as it flows through chalk and limestone formations under the earth. As the amount of these minerals present increases, so too does the water’s 'hardness.'

There are a number of health benefits associated with drinking harder water, however there are some clear detriments to other things caused by it. For example, hard water can lead to white deposits on clothing or dishes when washed, or, more seriously, lead to calcium buildup in piping which impedes water flow and can negatively affect heating.

Medicine Hat’s water is considered to be moderately hard at 11.7 grains per gallon (about 200 milligrams of calcium chlorate per litre). By comparison, Regina has an average hardness of around 29 grains per gallon, and Vancouver’s water is reported to be a mere 0.3 grains per gallon.

While most in Medicine Hat don’t consider local water hardness to be a problem, some do elect to have a water softener installed in their homes to try to prevent some of the problems arising from hard water.